Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Morning's Reading

This morning, when reading the book of Hosea, several verses particularly spoke to my heart:

"Come, let us return to the LORD. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us . . ." (Hosea 6:1)

This verse shares that the Lord, while He does discipline, will also heal and bandage. The discipline can be considered to be parallel to gold being refined in the fire - in that it is for our good so that we may come forth pure with the dross being removed. It is because of the discipline that we can draw nearer to our Father.

" 'My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.' It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? . . . For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness." (Hebrews 12:5-7, 10)

Returning to Hosea:

". . . So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth." (Hosea 6:3)

This verse is especially comforting! Our Lord will come to us like the rain, the spring rain that waters the earth and brings forth refreshment and growth. This growth is much the same as that which was referred to in the verses from Hebrews: "that we may share His holiness"; that we may grow to be "like the Holy One who called [us]" (1 Peter 1:15.) This verse from Hosea shows so clearly the great love that the Lord has for us His children!

-Posted by Sarah

Friday, December 19, 2008

Submission - Part 4: The Attitude of the Heart

In this fourth and last post on submission, we will be taking a look at what the attitude of our hearts should be when submitting. The definition ascribed to the word “submitting” by Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language gives a clear description of the heart attitude. Summarized, it states:

Submission is cheerfully yielding one’s will to the will and authority of another accompanied by humble and suppliant behavior without murmuring.

Two different aspects seem to especially stand out: one, that we are to submit cheerfully, and secondly, without murmuring . . .


“In a cheerful manner; with alacrity or willingness; readily; with life, animation or good spirits.”*

How convicting this definition is! By it, we see that when we submit it is to be with joy, willingness, and in a cheerful manner (the opposite of this would be grudgingly with a negative or angry heart.) This type of true cheerfulness and joy comes from abiding in the Lord and walking in obedience to Him as Christ instructed:

My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (John 15:8-11)

It is not our joy, but His joy shining through us as we submit to our fathers (or husbands) in obedience to our Lord. When thinking of how this cheerfulness and joy would be expressed in our lives, what comes to mind is a smile on the face, a quickness and readiness to fulfill whatever was directed (or whatever we know that he would desire), and a willing heart that is seeking to submit and serve the one whom the Lord has placed over us.

Several verses from Proverbs came to mind while writing this that seemed to relate rather well: 

A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken.” (Proverbs 15:13).

A wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands.” (Proverbs 14:1)

It is better to live in a desert land than with a contentious and vexing woman.” (Proverbs 21:19)

By having a cheerful heart of submission, by not being contentious and vexing, and by building instead of tearing, our Lord will be glorified. The choice is ours to make – will we be ones who build up or tear down? Will we respond with contentiousness and vexation? Or with cheerfulness, love and joy?

Without Murmuring

Murmuring is: “uttering complaints in a low voice or sullen manner; grumbling; complaining”*

Complain is: “to utter expressions of resentment; to murmur; to find fault”*

I am sure that we all have been guilty of these two things at least at some point in our lives! Due to the sin nature of man, complaining and murmuring is a natural part of us. Paul, recognizing this, exhorted for followers of Christ to “Do all things without grumbling or disputing” (Philippians 2:14.) This is what we are to strive for . . . to do “all things” (including submitting) without grumbling or disputing.

Before we can overcome feelings such as these, though, we need to know the root cause of them. For how can we get rid of a noxious weed, without removing the root? It is the same with the negative attributes in our own lives. We need to discover the “root” of the problem so that we can work to remove it. 

So what is the root of a complaining and murmuring heart? It comes from selfishness, and in part, also a lack of trust in the Lord. Selfishness in that we are looking to satisfy our own wants and desires instead of following the exhortation in Philippians to “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;” (Philippians 2:3.) 

This chapter continues with the instruction to have the same attitude as did Christ who being God, humbled Himself to become a man even to the point of dying on the cross as "the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world." (1 John 2:2.) For He who knew no sin was made “to be sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21) that those who believe in Him might have “life in His name” (John 20:31.)

And we are to follow His example of humility; we are to “follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21.) We are to submit to our fathers (or husbands) in the same way that Christ submitted to the will of the Father. Cheerfully, willingly, completely and with readiness.

Another aspect that builds the foundation of a cheerful and non-murmuring heart is a resolute trust in the Lord. In His Word, God has given many promises, one of which is that:

“. . . we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

It is with promises such as this that we can have joy in our circumstances; that we can respond with cheerfulness and love when submitting to our fathers (or husbands.) For the Lord is not a God who is far off, but a God who is near and who has promised to be our help and stronghold as we place our trust in Him. May each one of us rest on His promises relying on Him to give us the strength to submit cheerfully and willingly.

So the next time our fathers (or husbands) request or express their desire for something (such as the things mentioned in Part 3), let’s put a smile on our lips, a song of joy in our hearts, quick and willing hands ready to serve and bless, and a heart ready and willing to follow. Let us, as ladies striving to be obedient to the Lord, adorn ourselves with ornaments of great price that are precious to the Lord . . . let us adorn ourselves, as did the holy women of old, with the beautiful quality of submission.

In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external – braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.” (1 Peter 3:1-6)

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything . . .” (Ephesians 5:22-24)

*All definitions taken from Noah Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language

**I would like to mention again that this series is in no way complete as there are several aspects of this area of submission that I do not yet fully understand, but I hope and pray that what was shared here was a blessing to you!

-Posted by Sarah

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Few Verses to Share . . .

This past Sunday morning during our time that we meet with brothers and sisters in the Lord, one of the men shared several verses from Ephesians and taught on them. The verses were quite convicting to me, and I thought that they might be a blessing to you also . . .

"Therefore I [Paul], the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Ephesians 4:1-3)

-Posted by Sarah

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Submission - Part 2: What is it?

Through examining Scripture, we have already determined that submission is something that should be a part of a godly woman’s character. We have also seen who the submissive heart should be directed to . . . fathers if we are unmarried and husbands if we are married.

But what is submission?

The word “submit” as used in Scripture is taken from the Greek word “hupotasso” which means to subordinate; to obey. This word (and its derivatives) is used in reference to relationships such as:

--Believers in subjection to governmental authorities
--Believers in subjection to each other
--Believers in subjection to Christ and God the Father
--Children in subjection to their parents
--Young men to elders

And as used in this discussion:

--Women learning with all submissiveness
--Wives in subjection to husbands (which is also applicable to the daughter-father relationship as was seen in the earlier post on this topic.)

Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament furthers the definition of "submit" by defining it as: “to subject one’s self, to obey; to submit to one’s control; to yield to one’s admonition or advice . . . obey, be subject.”

All of these give a fairly good understanding of what submission is, but when looking up this word (and others similar to it) in Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, I was blessed and convicted by several of the definitions. To summarize, submission is cheerfully yielding one’s will to the will and authority of another accompanied by humble and suppliant behavior without murmuring.

Yielding the Will

This is the heart of submission, a yielding of one’s will. Within that will are our desires, plans, ideas, likes, dislikes, goals and other such things. We have this idea that these things are ‘ours’, but we must remember, when we repented of our sins and gave ourselves over to Jesus Christ believing in His name, we surrendered all of our rights. We are not our own . . .

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Because of the beautiful and incomprehensible purchase of ourselves by God through the precious blood of Jesus Christ, we have no rights for they have been relinquished. We are the Lord’s and are to give ourselves for His glory. That should be our heart’s longing and calling to bring glory to His name by living in obedience to Him. It is not our will that we are seeking to satisfy and follow, but the will of the Lord.

In 1 Peter, it is written “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21). We have been called to follow Christ and the example that He set for us. When examining the life of Christ, the direction we are to follow is shown to be expressly clear when He declares:

For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (John 6:38; there are similar verses in John 4:34 and 5:30)

Christ’s whole purpose was to do the will of the Father . . . and so should ours be. So the heart of submission is seen to be a surrendering of our will to do the will of the Father, and then in turn, surrendering it to those whom the Lord has placed in authority over us.

Once we recognize that we are not our own and we have no rights, submission to another comes much more easily. We are no longer fighting to satisfy our own wants and desires, but we are seeking something higher . . . to please the Lord and lovingly submit to and honor the man who is our head. And through submitting to and following the leadership of the men whom the Lord has placed in authority over us, we are in actuality submitting to the Lord.

Examples in Scripture - Esther

There are many practical examples that can be given to illustrate how submission is to be lived out in our lives, and Scripture gives just that. Through reading and studying the accounts of the women who have come before us, there is much that can be learned as Paul in writing to the Romans shares: “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction,” (Romans 14:4a).

An example of this very topic of discussion was found one morning a few weeks ago as I was reading in the book of Esther regarding Esther’s relationship with Mordecai, the man who had taken her in and raised her when her parents had died. Esther had just been taken captive and brought to King Ahasuerus’s harem, when the first indication of her heart in this area is shown:

Esther did not make known her people or her kindred, for Mordecai had instructed her that she should not make them known.” (Esther 2:10)

Here, it is seen that Esther was following the counsel and guidance of the man who was in authority over her. She did not question his direction, seek to circumvent it, nor to outright oppose it . . . she simply followed. Her heart of submission is even further expressed in verse 20 of the same chapter:

“. . . for Esther did what Mordecai told her as she had done when under his care.” (Esther 2:20)

Despite the frightening and difficult circumstances Esther found herself faced with, she continued to respect and submit to Mordecai just as she had when directly under his care. Her deeply founded heart of submission eventually brought her into the King’s court at the very real risk of her life. 

The circumstances that follow are well known—they are basically summarized with Mordecai’s wise instruction, followed by Esther’s submissive obedience.* And this is what brought about the preservation of the lives of many, many people as well as the Jews’ victory over their enemies.

Submission is truly a beautiful attribute of a godly woman . . . a beautiful attribute that we are commanded by God to adorn ourselves with. Much as we may wish it to be, it is not something that just happens instantly. It is grown by dying to self instance by instance and day by day. It is a continual submitting and yielding of the will and desires to our Lord, and then to our fathers or husbands. 

Having a submissive heart is not easy (in fact, it can be very difficult), but as we submit to and yield our will to those whom the Lord has placed as head over us, we will be pleasing in His sight. Remember, just as Christ submitted to the Father, so should we submit to our fathers or husbands . . . cheerfully, humbly, and with love. What joy it must bring to the Lord when women love Him and serve Him within the bounds and guidelines that He has established!

*It is important to note that Esther’s obedience to Mordecai’s instruction does not conflict with the headship or authority of her husband (this is for many reasons; for example, the king had not forbidden Esther from coming into his presence; also, through Esther's words to the king, we see that her heart was humble and submissive before him.)

-Posted by Sarah

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Submission - Part 1: Why?

In Scripture, there is a specific command given numerous times to women that is not often spoken of, and even less, lived out in the true meaning of the word in the Christian culture of today. Within this specific command, there is a great promise, and by obeying it, wonderful things can come forth. This command is for women to submit to the men whom the Lord has placed in authority and headship over them.

As mentioned, this attribute is spoken of several times in Scripture, but perhaps one of the most beautiful passages that teach it is in 1 Peter (another is found in Ephesians 5:22-33):

In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external – braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.” (1 Peter 3:1-6; submission of the wives to their husbands is also taught in Colossians 3:18 and Titus 2:5)

While this passage is directed to wives, the application of it is just as true for us who are not married. In 1 Timothy 2:11-14, it is shown that submission is for all women:

A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived fell into transgression.” (1 Timothy 2:11-14)

In the book of Numbers, the authority and headship of both the husband over the wife and the father over his unmarried daughter are seen. The passage is rather lengthy so it will not be shared here, but I encourage you to read Numbers 30:3-15. 

These verses basically state that if a daughter or a wife makes a vow to the Lord, the vow can either be upheld or negated by the father or the husband; thus showing the authority of the man over the woman. (It is interesting to note, that no other relationship is mentioned in this passage save for the father/daughter and husband/wife relationships [the former being a direct precursor to the latter]).

1 Corinthians 11 illustrates the different roles that the Lord has distinctly established for men and women:

But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:3)

God has set in place an order of headship and authority of: God the head of Christ, Christ the head of man, and man the head of woman. Christ Himself submitted to the will of the Father; so should we, as women, submit to our head which is the man.

This order, of man as head over woman, was created at the beginning of time in the Garden of Eden: “Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper [or helpmeet] suitable for him.’” As we know, the account continues with Eve being fashioned from Adam’s rib—taken from the man and brought to the man as a helper. Not as a leader or a co-equal, but as someone who would aid Adam in his endeavors and the calling that the Lord had given to him.

The commands and order of headship (as well as the specific roles of men and women) established and given by God can be difficult for us to understand, and/or they may even be something that our heart rebels at, or perhaps, passively resists. 

There has been (and no doubt will continue to be!) much debating, discussion and argument against the scriptural teaching of submission . . . it is often said: “But it is cultural!”, “We are all supposed to submit to each other (Ephesians 5:21)”, “This is degrading to the woman!” 

Regardless, and despite the arguments against it, in His word, God has commanded woman (and not just once, but a multitude of times) to submit to the man that He has placed in authority and headship over her, and we are to obey Him. If we choose not to obey, regardless of our argument, we are walking contrary to the very commands of God and by that disobedience, are indicating a lack of love for Him. 1 John 5:3 states:

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3)

And again in the book of John:

If you love Me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15)

(Note, this does not indicate that we must be perfect in order to love the Lord; the Greek word used for ‘keep’ in the above verses is tereo which means: to guard, to hold fast, to attend to carefully, to observe, etc.; none of which indicate perfection in obedience.)

As women who love the Lord and desire to be obedient to Him, we should be striving to be submissive to those who are in authority over us; namely our fathers if we are unmarried, or our husbands if we are married. For this is pleasing to God and brings Him glory as we seek to follow His commands to have hearts adorned with the beautiful quality of submission.

Coming soon . . . Submission – Part 2: What is it?

This topic of submission is one that is so very broad and deep . . . and it is an area that I am continually learning more about and seeking to develop more in my own life. I have striven to (and continue to!) develop a scriptural understanding of submission, but being a young, unmarried woman, my experience in this area of submission is relatively small, and is not without the potential for misunderstanding and misapplication. With that, I would like to ask those of you who are older, if the Lord should lead, for you to share your understanding of this vital area. Much can be gleaned from the experience and wisdom of you older women!

Also, as an unmarried woman, the focus of this writing is for women in general and not specifically to wives, thus many passages such as Ephesians 5:22-33 will not be specifically expounded upon, but I encourage each one of you to read and examine this passage and others similar to it. And as this area of submission is so vast, what will be shared in this small series will in no way be complete, but my hope and prayer is that it will stir thought and convict the heart to scripturally examine this area of submission.

-Posted by Sarah

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Crown Him with Many Crowns

The below hymn has been on my heart the past several days and was also one that we sang this past Sunday morning . . . I pray that it will be a blessing to you as it has been to me!

Crown Him with many crowns,
The Lamb upon His throne;
Hark! how the heav'nly anthem drowns
All music but its own!
Awake, my soul, and sing
Of Him Who died for thee,
And hail Him as thy matchless King
Thru all eternity.

Crown Him the Lord of love:
Behold His hands and side -
Rich wounds, yet visible above,
In beauty glorified.
No angel in the sky
Can fully bear that sight,
But downward bends his wond'ring eye
At mysteries so bright.

Crown Him the Lord of life:
Who triumphed o'er the grave,
Who rose victorious to the strife
For those He came to save.
His glories now we sing,
Who died and rose on high,
Who died, eternal life to bring,
And lives that death may die.

Crown Him the Lord of heav'n:
One with the Father known,
One with the Spirit thru Him giv'n
From His eternal throne.
To Thee be endless praise,
For Thou for us hast died;
Be Thou, O Lord, thru endless days
Adored and magnified.*

"For Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the heavens, You who have done great things; O God, who is like You?" (Psalm 71:19)

"Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD. Blessed by the name of the LORD from this time forth and forever. From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the LORD is to be praised." (Psalm 113:1-3)

*Words: Stanzas 1, 2, 4 by Matthew Bridges, 1800-1894; Stanza 3 by Godfrey Thring, 1823-1903
Music: George J. Elvey, 1816-1893

-Posted by Sarah

Friday, October 24, 2008

Love - Part 15: Never Fails

Love . . .

--is Patient

--is Kind

--is Not Jealous

--Does not brag

--is Not arrogant

--Does not act unbecomingly

--Does not seek its own

--is Not Provoked

--Does not take into account a wrong suffered

--Does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth

--Bears all things

--Believes all things

--Hopes all things

--Endures all things . . .

And finally we come to the culmination of what true and godly love is . . . it does not fail.

Love has many definitions in today’s world . . . but what is seen is often not a true love, but is instead selfishness and lust. It is seeking to satisfy ones’ own pleasures without considering the needs of others. 

We love, as long as our needs and desires are being met. If someone does not meet our expectations, whether it be a friend, a parent, a spouse or a sibling, we stop loving, or at least, the love grows dim. 

Is this the same type of love being spoken of here in 1 Corinthians 13? Is it the same type of love that our Lord repeatedly exhorts in Scripture for us to have? No. This is an earthly “love” and not a heavenly love. It is a love founded upon selfishness and not upon sincerity and truth.

As in all things, our Lord is the example we are to follow in knowing how to love and in what manner to love (1 Peter 2:21-24; Matthew 11:29). The love that our heavenly Father has bestowed upon us is amazing . . . does He stop loving us when we sin? When we forget to spend time with Him? When we speak angry words to our family members? When we doubt His promises? No, the love of God keeps on loving. 

There are literally hundreds of verses in Scripture that speak of the love that the Lord has for the world, for Israel, for His church, for His children. One of my favorite hymns titled “The Love of God” speaks beautifully of this love:

When years of time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men, who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

What beautiful, indescribable, infinite love! And we are so very undeserving of it. The love of God and our Savior, Jesus Christ, is perfect, it is true, and it is lasting . . . it will never fail. In 1 John, the apostle states that “God is love” (1 John 4:8), and, “we know love by this, that He laid down His life for us;” (1 John 3:16). The apostle continues with “and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16). 

Throughout the rest of the book many exhortations are given to love, such as these: “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth . . . Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God . . . Beloved if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 3:18; 4:7, 11; for a fuller perspective and understanding on love, I encourage you to take some time to read the book of 1 John. What a convicting book it is!).

As we seek to follow the example set before us by our Lord and to be obedient to these commands, the godly, enduring, perfect love that is who our God is and what is described in 1 Corinthians 13 is what we are to strive for. 

Not an earthly love that is founded upon emotions and feelings . . . a love that waxes and wanes depending on how another acts and/or other outward circumstances. A true and godly love will persist . . . the flame of love ignited by the Holy Spirit will continue to burn. At times, the love may not burn as brightly when our fleshly nature raises its ugly head, but a love founded upon the Lord will never fail, for it is His love, flowing through us.

But if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away” (1 Corinthians 13:8).

But love, a love pouring forth from a heart given to the Lord, is one that “never fails”.

We love, because He first loved us . . . And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.” (1 John 4:19 and 21)

-Posted by Sarah

Friday, October 17, 2008

Psalm 95:1-7a

"O come, let us sing for joy to the LORD,
Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving,
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. 
For the LORD is a great God 
And a great King above all gods, 
In whose hand are the depths of the earth,
The peaks of the mountains are His also.
The sea is His, for it was He who made it,
And His hands formed the dry land. 
Come, let us worship and bow down, 
Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. 
For He is our God, 
And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand." 
Psalm 95:1-7a

-Posted by Sarah

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Question of Headcoverings - Part 2

The most recent post regarding headcoverings has garnered much interest, many comments and several e-mails. Thank you to all of you ladies who shared your thoughts! 

Through reading what was shared, there is an additional area that we would like to look at regarding this passage in 1 Corinthians 11 as well as the reason behind having any covering at all (whether it be long hair or a physical veil.)

The argument oft used against the long hair being the covering is verse 6 of chapter 11. In the NASB this verse reads “For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head.” 

The question that is then asked is: if hair is the covering, why would Paul say that a woman without her head covered (short hair) should have her hair cut off? Wouldn’t he then be saying “if her hair is cut short, than have it cut short”?

As before, it is found that the Greek texts (from which our English translations are translated) do much to bring understanding to this passage. We would like to share with you the key verses in this passage (1 Corinthians 11:5-6) in the literal translation from the Greek (taken from J. P. Green’s The Interlinear Bible):

But every woman praying or prophesying uncovered with the head, shames the head of herself, for one it is and the same with being shaved. For if is not covered a woman, also let her be shorn. But if shameful for a woman to be shorn or to be shaved, let her be covered.

(All of the Greek texts [the Novum Testamentum Graece text which is the foundation of many major Bible versions today; the Textus Receptus text which is the one we quoted above, and which is the foundation of the King James Version and the New King James Version; and the Majority Text.] read basically the same.)

In the verses quoted above, it mentions that an uncovered head while praying or prophesying is the same as being shaved and also that if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. 

The Greek word from which “shorn” is translated is “keiro” (Strongs 2751) which means to shear as a sheep. 

The Greek word from which “shaved” is translated is “xurao” (Strongs 3587) which means to shear, shave with a razor; to get one’s self shaved. When a sheep is shaved, it is right down to the skin; in essence it is to be made bald, to be completely shaven. Being shaved with a razor also indicates complete baldness rather than simply short hair.

In looking at the words “keiro” and “xurao”, (the words that are in the Greek texts) and the meanings of these words, one can see that the translation in many of our English versions of the word “keiro” is not an accurate translation. They often read something like “have her hair cut off” (though the NASB reference Bible that we have also gives the literal rendering in the margin which reads “shear herself”). 

The King James Version gives an accurate translation of this verse that holds close to the Greek: “For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn”. Thus far, we see a difference between short hair and being shorn or shaven.

In the life of the apostle Paul, the difference between short hair and shaven is made clear also: Men were to have short hair according to 1 Corinthians 11; due to Paul’s Nazarite vow, he shaved his already short hair off. In Acts 18:18 – the Greek reads: "having shorn in Cenchrea the [his] head; for he had a vow.” 

The word shorn is translated from "keiro"—one of the same words used in 1 Corinthians 11. So Paul went from a position of short hair to being shaven/shorn. It is apparent that short hair and being shorn are physically two different things.

With an understanding of the words “shaved” and “shorn”; and if, as according to verse 15, the long hair and not a physical cloth veil is a woman’s covering, we find that the above quoted verses from the Greek are made clear:

But every woman praying or prophesying uncovered with the head [with short hair and not long], shames the head of herself, for one it is and the same with being shaved [shorn as a sheep; bald]. For if is not covered a woman [does not have long hair, but has short hair], also let her be shorn [shorn as a sheep; bald]. But if shameful for a woman to be shorn or to be shaved [bald], let her be covered [have long hair].”

As the “long hair instead of a veil has been given to her”, to pray unveiled or uncovered would be to pray with short hair (like a man's) instead of long . . . doing so shames the head of her.

But what is the purpose behind the headcovering (whether it is a physical cloth or long hair)? It is to show the attitude and condition of the heart . . . the beautiful quality and countenance of godly submission. 

As daughters or wives striving to serve and be obedient to the Lord, we must submit to our father’s or husband’s wishes and desires for us in this area (1 Timothy 2:11-14; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:5-6; Numbers 30:3-5). If our fathers or husbands do not desire us to, have not asked us to, and/or have not given permission to wear a physical cloth covering, for us to do so would be to violate the very reason for, or intent of, covering in the first place. 

And vice versa, if our fathers or husbands desire us to cover with a physical cloth veil, yet we insist that the long hair is the covering and follow this course, we are in rebellion and by our actions and heart, we would be denying the very purpose of covering.

As many have so wisely shared through comments and e-mails, submission is truly the heart of the matter. We can cover our heads with a cloth veil or long hair, but if it is against our father’s or husband’s desire, we are rebelling instead of submitting. And the Lord sees and knows . . . others may see the covering or long hair and think that we have submissive spirits, but “God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

We encourage all of you ladies to ask your fathers or husbands what they would prefer or desire you to do. Do not force your opinions or beliefs upon him in an attempt to pressure him to let you do what you desire; but humbly ask, truly seeking to submit to and honor the one whom the Lord has placed as your head, as your authority, as your leader. 

For in this is the Lord glorified . . . as we follow the example of Sarah of old and adorn ourselves with submission, which is in part “the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:4b).

-Posted by Sarah and Leah

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Question of Headcoverings

Periodically our family receives questions regarding scriptural issues and last week we received one in regards to headcoverings. In speaking of a particular group of people it was shared . . .

"The women wear headcoverings. In your pictures you do not. Why?"

Below is my response to her, and it is shared here to provoke thought, and perhaps discussion regarding the issue: 


The question of why we do not wear headcoverings is a good one! This is a topic that we have devoted intensive scriptural study to, for if the Lord desired us to cover our heads with a cloth/fabric covering, we wanted to be obedient to Him! 

1 Corinthians 11 (the only chapter in the New Testament which suggests a woman covering her head) has been confusing to many and is surrounded with much controversy. The spiritual and physical roles of men and women is the primary focus of the chapter.

 It is clearly explained the order that God has placed men and women in . . . women in subjection to men, men in subjection to Christ, Christ in subjection to God. It is important to realize that this headship does not in the least lower the woman or make her a slave/servant—it is a beautiful role, just a different role than that of a man. Nor does this role lessen her in the eyes of God, make her less ‘spiritual’ or give her restricted access to the Lord. 

When examining this passage and striving to take it in context in its entirety and with the rest of Scripture, we came to the conclusion that wearing a physical cloth covering is not a practice commanded by the Lord. For us, this decision came through studying specifically verses 13-15 of chapter 11. In the original Greek these verses read: 

Among you [your]selves judge: fitting is it [for] a woman unveiled to God to pray? Not nature self teaches you that a man indeed if he wears his hair long, a dishonor to him it is, but a woman if she wears her hair long, a glory to her it is? Because the long hair instead of a veil has been given to her” (1 Corinthians 11:13-15).

The phrase “instead of a veil” is absent from English versions, but present in all the Greek texts (the Novum Testamentum Graece text [the foundation of many major Bible versions today], the Textus Receptus text [the foundation of the King James Version and the New King James Version] and the Majority Text.) 

The “instead of” is translated from the Greek word ‘anti’. This word has several different similar meanings including the word ‘for’ (which is what is used in the modern versions today), but as used in 1 Corinthians 11:15, it bears the stronger meaning of ‘instead of and/or in place of something’. 

Thus, the proper rendering of “the long hair instead of a veil has been given to her.” Basically the long hair is given instead of a veil; the long hair serves as the covering mentioned earlier in the chapter. 

The majority of English Bible versions today read something like: “her hair is given to her for a covering”. This translation greatly confuses the issue! But when looking at the different Greek texts, it was clear to us that long hair was the covering spoken of by God in 1 Corinthians 11; thus that is the reason why we ladies in the family wear our hair long. Not necessarily because we ‘like’ long hair (though, we do love it!), but because we desire to cover our heads in the manner that the Lord commands (1 Corinthians 14:37-38). (Though, in Scripture a specific length of hair is not mandated, it simply states that a woman is to have long hair that differs from the short hair of men.) 

Not only is the long hair the covering of the woman, it is also stated that it is “a glory to her.” Our long hair is a representative of the beautiful role that the Lord has placed us in . . . why would we cover with a veil what the Lord has given to us as our glory and covering? 

We do hope that this brief examination pertaining to headcoverings will be a blessing to you! If you have any questions or if we have not articulated something clear enough, please do not hesitate to ask!

*Edited to add: What is shared here is with the intent to stir thought and encourage one to examine this area of headcoverings. It is not intended to cause daughters or wives to go against the teaching and desire of their fathers or husbands. As women, we are commanded by the Lord to submit to our fathers or husbands . . . and this includes in this area of whether or not to cover our heads with a physical cloth covering. I hope that that clarifies this issue a bit! :) 

-Posted by Sarah

*Edited to add: A follow up post to this one has also been posted. It can be found here:
A Question of Headcoverings - Part 2

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Nearness of God

"Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For, behold, those who are far from You will perish;
You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.
But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works."

Psalm 73:25-28

-Posted by Leah

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Wholly Devoted

Let your heart therefore be wholly devoted to the LORD our God, to walk in His statutes and to keep His commandments, as it is this day.” 1 Kings 8:61

As I was reading my Bible yesterday morning, this particular verse spoke to my heart . . . specifically the phrase “wholly devoted”. I pulled out our dictionary and looked at the definitions of these words and found that:

Devoted means to be: Solemnly set apart or dedicated; consecrated

Devote means: To give up wholly; to direct the attention wholly or chiefly

Wholly means: 1) Entirely; completely; perfectly 2) Totally; in all parts or kinds

How convicting the above verse and the definition of the words therein are! Our lives should have this one purpose: to be completely given to loving and obeying our great and holy God and through this, to bring glory and praise to His name . . . in all things having a life consecrated to Him for His use.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

*All definitions taken from Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language

*Upon further study, the phrase “wholly devoted” was found to be the NASB’s translation in this particular verse of the Hebrew word ‘shalem’ (Strongs 8003) which means full, complete, whole, perfect. This word in the KJV and ASV is translated as: “perfect” in 1 Kings 8:61. In essence, it is to be perfect and complete with the Lord, blameless. This defining serves to deepen and broaden the implications meant in “wholly devoted”.

-Posted by Sarah

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Love - Part 14: Endures All Things

Love . . . endures all things
1 Corinthians 13:7

Here is the last of the “all things” phrases. And this one focuses upon our response to outward circumstances. Endurance. 

The Greek word from which “endures” is translated is hupomeno, and as used here in 1 Corinthians 13, it means "to bear (trials), have fortitude, persevere" (taken from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance). Vines Expository Dictionary states that this “hupomeno” denotes “to abide under, to bear up courageously” (under suffering).

The majority of verses that use this word 'hupomeno', refer to endurance being the mark of a follower of Christ and endurance in response to sufferings. Such is seen in a verse in Hebrews where the believers had “endured a great conflict of sufferings” (Hebrews 10:32). 

In the letter to the Romans, Paul encouraged them to “Be . . . rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,” (Romans 12:10, 12).

But why is endurance important? Our human nature is to buckle and break under adversity and persecution; to give in so that the pressure against us will cease. Why would we want to endure? First of all, the Lord has instructed us to. For that reason alone, out of our love for our God, we should strive to endure whatever circumstances He allows into our lives. 

As we endure, this also finds favor with God . . . it is pleasing to Him: “For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God” (1 Peter 2:20).

The Lord has also promised that “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).

As believers in Christ, we are guaranteed persecution: “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12; see also John 15:20 and Acts 14:22). This persecution is something that we can know will come upon us as we walk in obedience to our Lord. Knowing this, we can decide even now how we will respond. Will we endure? Or compromise? Will the endurance be with joy and patience? Or will we grumble and complain?

In Scripture, we are given so many encouraging and convicting examples of those who persevered and endured under trial. Paul for example shares that he was:

 “beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:23b-27). 

Wow, that is quite a list of things to endure and to have weighing on ones’ mind! Yet what was Paul’s response to all of these? He counted all things as loss for Christ (Philippians 3:7-8) and stated that he was “well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake;” (2 Corinthians 12:10a). 

With this heart, Paul was able to declare: “. . . I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.” (2 Timothy 2:10)

Paul is an excellent example of one who endured much adversity. Another is found in the life of a man whom James makes mention of in his letter: “We count those blessed who have endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful” (James 5:11).

The list of things that Job endured is quite impressive:

--The loss of his livestock (Job 1:13-17)
--The loss of many of his servants (Job 1:13-17)
--The loss of his physical wealth (Job 1:13-17)
--The loss of his sons and daughters (Job 1:18-19)
--Rejection and derision by family, intimate friends, servants, strangers (Job 19:13-19)
--Sore boils over his entire body (Job 2:7)
--His flesh clothed with worms and a crust of dirt (Job 7:5)
--The anger and rejection of his wife (Job 2:9-10, 19:17) 
--The condemnation of his friends (Job 16:20 and seen throughout the book of Job)
--He was a taunt and a byword (Job 30:9)
--Spit at and abhorred (Job 30:10)
--Burned with fever (Job 30:30)

Job was rejected by all those whom he loved and held dear, had extreme physical pain and illness, had lost his physical wealth . . . yet, he endured.

The last phrase of verse 11 in James chapter 5 (quoted above) is the encouragement that can help us to likewise endure: “You . . . have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.” 

Through whatever circumstances the Lord allows into our lives, He is all-loving, all-compassionate, all-merciful, and He is right there with us (Matthew 28:20). He is upholding us in His righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10). He is our strength, our rock, our refuge (Psalm 62:6-8) . . . our ever present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).

It is through Him and the strength that He alone provides, that we can love through enduring. That we can bear up under trials courageously, giving praise and glory to the Lord through the trials as we trust in Him.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)

-Posted by Sarah

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Living Sacrifice

"Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:1-2

Friday, August 8, 2008

Love - Part 13: Hopes All Things

Love . . . hopes all things
1 Corinthians 13:7

Hopes”, as used in this particular verse, is translated from the Greek word ‘Elpizo’ (Strongs 1679) and it means:

1. to hope
a. in a religious sense, to wait for salvation with joy and full confidence

2. hopefully to trust in

(definition taken from our computer concordance).

This word, “hope” (elpizo) is also defined through Scripture itself: 

For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it” 
(Romans 8:24-25; emphasis added). 

Hope is in something that we cannot see; generally in reference to something futuristic.

There are many verses in Scripture that use this same word “elpizo”, translated as “hope” here in 1 Corinthians 13:7, with many of them in reference to hoping for some future event to take place such as Herod hoping to see a miracle (Luke 23:8), John hoping to come to those whom he addressed in 2 John (2 John 12), and the Israelites hoping that Christ was the one who was going to redeem Israel (Luke 24:21).

For a believer in and follower of Jesus Christ, this 'hoping' in something is clarified by Paul in 1 Corinthians 16:7: “For I do not wish to see you now just in passing; for I hope to remain with you for some time, if the Lord permits” (emphasis added). There is the qualifier for what is hoped in. If the Lord permits . . . if the Lord wills. Paul is hoping for something, but only if the Lord should allow it to take place. His hope is in submission to the will of the Lord.

Just as shared in the previous post on believing all things, our hoping of all things must be in accordance with God’s Word firstly, and then be submitted to His will. Below is a section taken from Love – Part 12: Believes All Things as it ties in closely with this particular aspect of love:

Sometimes in Scripture (though, by far the minority), this word “all” does not mean to be inclusive of every single thing (individually), but to some of all types (collectively). For example: 
God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth” (Genesis 6:12). Had all flesh (each, every, in whole not in part) corrupted their way? Only a few verses prior it is stated that “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time, Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9). We see that the ‘all’ does not include the righteous man Noah.
To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22). Did Paul become a murderer to the murderers? A thief to the thieves? Obviously not. One must read this “all things” in context to find what indeed is being referred to.

The qualifier of what our hope should be in, what this "all things" is referring to, is in the fact of whether or not the thing hoped for is in accordance with the Lord, His Word and His will for our lives. We obviously cannot know what the Lord’s will is in every aspect of our lives, but our hearts’ response should be as that of Paul: If the Lord permits.

Ultimately, where should our hope be placed?

Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone, has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day” (1 Timothy 5:5; similar verses are found in 1 Timothy 4:10 and 6:17; emphasis added).

For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands . . .” (1 Peter 3:5; emphasis added).

As believers in Christ, we are commanded to:

“. . . fix [our] hope completely on the grace to be brought to [us] at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13; emphasis added).

Our hope should be fixed upon God, and then our hope for futuristic events such as hoping to see or visit someone; hoping that a friend, sibling, or relative will change their course of living; hoping for the success and achievements of others; hoping to marry; hoping to teach; hoping to or for anything . . . these should all be in submission to the Lord’s will for our lives.

As the old hymn says:

My hope is built on nothing less,
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name!

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.

(Words taken from the hymn “The Solid Rock” by Edward Mote)

Indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope.” (2 Corinthians 1:10)

-Posted by Sarah